As a native of Uttarakhand, I was always emotionally attached to mountains and nature, and had a fascination to climb on snow clad mountains but had lost my immunity against the inherent luxury of planes, in a span of 15 years spent in Delhi NCR. I wanted to witness the colours filled by Almighty God on a huge canvas of mountains, but could not conquer my bugs of luxury for a long.
Finally, after 11 months of introspection, I took a company of a like-minded friend and decided to come out of my comfort zone and Concrete Jungle of Delhi NCR, to explore real limitless jungles of Pine, Deodar & Buransh on the way to Kedarkantha peak.
View of Swargarohini peak from Sankri guest house
A group of 16 strangers, oblivious to each other’s type and taste but with mountains, snow and trails in thoughts, started from Dehradun ISBT towards Sankri. After travelling 200 km, when we reached Sankari we were not strangers at all, perhaps this was the power of thoughts.
A Temple at Sankri
Again luxury tried to play with our excitement, there was no electricity in the guest house but it was not able to restrict us in any of our activity, we checked in the guest house, our group leader gave us necessary instruction for tomorrow and shared general dos and don’ts during the trek. After a nice dinner, everybody was in the quilt and wanted to rejuvenate for tomorrow’s trek. It was a cozy night after 400 km of travel and an overnight journey from Delhi.
A Himalayan kid spreading smiles
Next morning we did a stretching and yoga session, had breakfast and got our packed lunch. The whole group started a journey of mountains through trails, woods, snow and excitement which is beyond the capacity of words to explain. It was a beautiful trail covered by a dense forest of Pine trees, giving a feeling that sky itself has come over, to rest on them. Midway to Juda Ka Taal, we had our packed lunch and again started our journey of rocks. If you have curiosity in flora and fauna, believe me, a lot of example of symbiotic ecosystems like moss grass are eagerly waiting for you in this beautiful forest.
A tree covered with moss grass, an example of mutualism in the symbiotic ecosystem.
Nobody was accustomed to mountain trails so our first day of the trek was a bit tough, but the mesmerizing view of the semi-frozen lake “The Juda Ka Taal” rejoiced us. Our campsite at Juda Ka Taal was just a few steps down. Juda ka Taal camp is the first halt on the way to Kedarkantha summit at the altitude of 9000 feet. Trekkers stay here overnight, acclimatize and prepare themselves to gain a further altitude of 12500 feet till Kedarkantha peak after climbing ~6 km from Sankri.
Juda Ka Taal
When we reached campsite Sun was ready to hand over its responsibility to the moon, to lighten the snow-clad mountains and woods of Deodar in the night. God was filling colours on huge canvas of mountains using a day-long tired sun rays as his brush and here a greedy photographer in a day long tired trekkers, was trying to capture as much as possible until they realized that if a moment on the way can be this beautiful than what would be the scene of actual summit.
View of mountains at sunset
The thought of staying in a tent and surviving with a sleeping bag in freezing cold nights of December used to scare as well as excite me a lot. But a clear sky, full of stars, to see. Pollution free air, to breathe. An extraordinary curvy roof, to cover. Cozy enclosure to sleep. A sheet of virgin snow, the shade of countless trees and icing on the cake, no network in mobile to disturb.
What else? Does a trekker need luxury, more than this?
Night view of Juda Ka Taal campsite
Nights on the mountains are not lazy, a good nap can make you feel rejuvenate and you will wake up early and fresh the next morning. Next day, we started early from Juda Ka Taal campsite for Kedarkantha base camp. Semi grown up buds of Buransh/ Guransh (Rhododendron), the state flower of Uttarakhand, was greeting us all the way to Kedarkantha base camp and inviting us to visit again in February when they actually bloom.
Semi grown buds of Buransh
At Kedarkantha base camp we were treated with a hot lunch and after early dinner, in the evening we went to sleep in our tents. We started early in the morning at about 2 AM for the summit, everybody was excited, to reach the peak before sunrise.
When we reached the ridge, icy cold stormy winds welcomed us before the summit. It was trying to defeat our entire warm layers, our fingertips of hand & toes were getting numbed. Believe me at that point of time the rising excitement was sufficient to cope with those winds. Anyway, these winds kept on escorting us till the summit, neither those winds nor we surrendered.
The trail to Kedarkantah Peak
Picture credit: Ankush Kundal
At summit point, everybody was so overwhelmed, like a dream came true, filled with a sense of achievement.
To descend from the summit was also very exciting. Snow-clad slopes of mountains were luring us to take a slide and feel them. Yes, true we could not control and a child within us superseded our maturity and did whatever it liked.
The Kedarkantha Trek took our heart away and it really helped us step out of our comfort zone. We recommend everyone to try the trek.